Character Counts For Something, Right?

“Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

John Wooden   as quoted in How to Be Like Coach Wooden: Life Lessons from Basketball’s Greatest Leader (2006) pg. 5

I hate getting wisdom from athletic coaches.

As  a boy, I was rather non-athletic and I lived in a rural area where most boys were “real” boys who enjoyed hunting and fishing, were rugged and strong, and enjoyed the heck out of team sports.

Since I was “none of the above”, I felt a little out of place.   A little time in the Army cured me of the delusion that I could not become stronger and more rugged and a long period of running 5Ks, 10Ks, and longer races did help me see myself as somewhat athletic.   

But that’s not the point of this post.

Wooden points out a great reality:   You control your character, but you do not control your reputation.

Reputation is in the mind, but not yours

Your reputation is in the minds of other people.  You can influence, you can manipulate, you can campaign, you can try to trick, but ultimately those other brains still function independently of you.

Good thing to keep in mind about a great many life issues.

Character is all in your head

Character is built on what you think, what you say, and what you do … all of which are in your span of control.

Character is visible to other people, at least in part, so your overt behaviors may influence how someone else regards you.  Just remember you cannot control that regard, only influence it.

Character ultimately has more to do with how you view yourself and your world.

   Character really is all in your head.

Trying hard to remember this one because it’s important in the Heartland ….


This Is My Life …

“My life is my message.

Mahatma Gandhi    Mahatma : Life of Gandhi 1869-1948 (1968) Reel 13    Response to a journalist’s question about what his message to the world was.

Sigh … I am already tired just thinking about trying to compare my life to that of Gandhi.  He’s ahead in the running, if you did not already know.

I recently made a fairly obvious pain of myself in a meeting.  The reasons  included some valid stress from the illness of a loved one and some rather immature jealousy of another person.

Whatever the reasons, my behavior was poor.  I was testy and somewhat confrontational, with a touch of “miffed” thrown in.

Whatever my reasons, what others saw was how I acted and how I interacted.

In the world of psychology, the term “incongruence” seems to fit this best.  My behaviors did not fit the image I have of myself.

I sense a clear and simple message here from Gandhi:

1)  What you do matters

Your actions are important, since they are the outward manifestation of what you believe important and worth your energy and time.

2) Others are aware of what you do 

Other may not know what you think or how you feel, but they can see what you do.  Your choices and decisions which result in action are there for others to see and judge.

3)  You will be remembered for what you do

Images make strong impressions.  What actions are you taking every day that will stick in people’s memories?

So the real question is this:

What message are your actions sending to others?

Trying to act in a more admirable fashion in the Heartland ….


Why Not …?

“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want.  It is instead the realization of how much you already have.”


I have been thinking about fulfillment lately.

Those kind of thoughts have been increasingly with me.  You know, the ones which start out  …

“I wish I had …”

“If only I could  …”

“Why can’t I …”

Sigh … so many unfulfilled desires, dreams, hopes … so little time and money.

One could spend a lifetime wanting what they do not have.   

Or I could spend my time thinking these kind of thoughts …

“I have …”

“I can …”

“Why not?”

Why do these kinds of thoughts seem so much harder to entertain?  Sometimes we seem hardwired to be pessimistic and “glass half full” types.

When I find myself falling into negative territory, I do three things:

1)  Fix my physical:   Eat better, sleep better, exercise more, and drink water.  Avoid sugar and snacking.  Clean up the house.  Do the chores.  Play with grandchildren.

2)  Fix my tangible:  What I can deal with, I try to face and do.  What I cannot deal with, I try to put aside.  Pay bills.  Repair things I can repair.   Make priority lists to help me decide.  Have guests for a meal.

3)  Fix my spiritual/emotional:  I seek comfort in positive thought, prayer, and trying to do good for others.  I go to church.  I volunteer to do things.  I seek the company of those I trust.

About that glass half full thing …

The pessimistic sees the glass half empty.  The optimist sees the glass half full.

The realist drinks the water,  and refills the glass, and drinks more until he is no longer thirsty.   I like that option.

Actually, I’d refill it with beer, but that’s another story for another time.

Having a long, cool drink of water in the Heartland ….


Of Stupidity and Genius …

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”

Albert Einstein  As quoted in And I Quote (2003) pg. 146

Sometimes our thoughtful and intelligent approaches put barriers in front of  us that the less thoughtful do not see.

How and when could either of these be positive?

Limits are good things when they help keep us focused, safe,and using our energy in effective ways.

Not having limits is good when you need to create, vision, and innovate.

How and when could either of these be negative?

Limits are “limiting” when they blind us to possibilities and keep us locked into known or traditional ways of approaching issues and changes.

Not having limits gives us so many options that sometimes we stop in our tracks and cannot move forward, simply because we cannot focus enough to choose a specific direction.

Maybe it all depends on what you want to do …

Checking my limits and deciding whether to honor them or ignore them in the Heartland ….